"The people are the sea that the revolutionary swims in."
Mao Zedong, 1937
"... and the terrorist."
Jack Carney, 2015
Part I -- Little Has Changed:
"It's the guns," a friend of mine posted on Facebook the day after the San Bernardino shootings. Yes, I agree it's the guns, particularly the assault rifles.
Yes, they should be registered, as New York's SAFE Law -- Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act -- has made mandatory for state residents. SAFE was passed in January, 2013, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings, at the behest of Governor Andrew Cuomo. Several of its provisions were and remain controversial, although the law has passed constitutional muster in the courts. Those same provisions, particularly assault rifles' renewable five-year registration period and the ten-round limit placed on the size of their magazines, appear, at least to me, unenforceable. No data on the impact of SAFE on gun safety and the reduction of gun-related deaths have yet been released. Interestingly, the California state legislature intends to follow suit, having voted to place a referendum, entitled "Safety For All," on the 2016 ballot. The California initiative will require background checks for the purchase of assault-rifle bullets and will limit the size of assault-rifle magazines.
But, down deep, I believe it's fear, an elemental fear that appears to be gripping most Americans, particularly white Americans, of "the other", i.e., anyone or any group that threatens their privileged status and self-identity as members of the political and social majority, that threatens to displace them. Historically, that status and self-identity have been built on the backs of the marginalized and the scapegoated, whose numbers have expanded over the recent years. Move over black Americans, Native Americans and those labeled mentally ill. Make room for all Muslims, Syrian refugees and any immigrants. And let's not forget the poor, black and white, folks beyond the pale, who lose their social welfare benefits because they've become invisible and can't recall that they're U.S. citizens and can vote to protect their self-interests. And folks who never expected to lose their special status at their age, middle-aged white Americans, who've lost their jobs and their self- identity, who've become superfluous, and drink or drug themselves to death or find some other means, like a gun, to kill themselves.